Xbox controller and games

These Xbox Family Settings will help your kids stay safe online during the festive season

‘Tis the season to be jolly – online, as well as offline.

It’s nearly December and parents are buying all manner of gifts for their children, with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X sure to be top of many wishlists.

Microsoft wants to help families have fun with their new consoles in an inclusive and safe environment, so it has released a reminder of how to restrict content, set up purchase and privacy controls and manage screen time.

Complete guides to all these topics can be found on the Xbox Family Settings website but here are the key things you need to know right now.

What to do before December 25

If you’ve bought an Xbox, Microsoft recommends turning it on and setting the parental controls before the big day, as well as downloading any games you may have bought so they are ready to play. After you’ve ensured a child-friendly gaming experience, you can then box the console back up and wrap it, ready to give to your loved one.

Content restrictions

These help you ensure your children only have access to age appropriate content by blocking specific apps, games or websites. Restrictions can also be customised for each child, so older children are not limited to the content set for their younger siblings, for example. Children can request access to games, apps or websites, which parents can approve or decline. This provides an opportunity for parents and children to talk about appropriate content.

Xbox settings

  • Press the Xbox button on your controller to open the guide
  • Select Settings
  • Select System and Signed out console restrictions
  • Enter your Microsoft account password to confirm your identity
  • Change the settings as desired. Select Access to content and then select the age you want to use
  • Press the B button on your controller when you have finished

Purchase limits

Parents can customise how they permit purchases on Microsoft and Xbox stores, and receive an email alert after each purchase. You can also add money to your child’s account so they can make purchases on their own within a specific limit. The quickest way to manage purchasing options on your child’s Xbox account is using Passkey, a combination of six Xbox controller button pushes that acts as a password for you to approve purchases on your child’s account. Using a six-digit Passkey will save you the need to manually type in your email address and password for every purchase that you wish to approve. You’ll set up your Passkey when you first set up your account on the Xbox and can then use it to protect purchases across both console and Microsoft account online.

Xbox Passkey

How to set up Passkey for purchases:

  • Press the Xbox button on your controller to open the guide
  • Select Settings
  • Select All Settings
  • Under Account, select Sign-in, security & Passkey. If you’ve previously required a password to change settings, you’ll be asked to enter it now
  • Under Sign-in, security & Passkey, select change my sign-in & security preferences
  • Scroll right and select Customise
  • Scroll right and select Ask for my Passkey to make purchases
  • To turn this feature off, repeat these steps and select Passkey not required

Screen time management

Parents can set screen time limits and schedules for each day of the week. For example, they can limit children to one hour of console time on school days and provide extra time on the weekends.

Xbox Screentime

How to set screen time limits:

  • Go to and sign in with your Microsoft account
  • find your child’s name and select Screen time
  • If you want to use the same schedule for all Xbox One and Windows devices, switch Use one screen time schedule from Off to On. If you’d rather have separate schedules, scroll down and switch on screen time for PC and Xbox One individually
  • Set how much time your child is allowed to spend with their devices each day, and when they can use them. If you want to give them the full amount of time you’ve scheduled, select Max scheduled. For example, if you’ve allowed screen time from 8am to 8pm, they could use their devices that entire time


Parents can decide how their children engage and interact with others on Xbox by managing who can communicate and play games with them, as well as restrict the activity and profile information others can view. This is particularly useful amid the popularity of online multiplayer games such as Fortnite. Parents can also limit interactions to just friends or family that have been pre-approved by the parent.

Xbox Settings screen

To change privacy settings in a parent’s account:

  • Under Privacy & online safety, select Xbox Live privacy
  • Choose a default or customise your settings by selecting View details & customise

To change privacy settings in a child’s account:

  • Under Account, select Family
  • Enter your password or Passkey, then select the account that you want to update
  • Select Privacy & online safety, then choose the default settings, or customise by selecting View details & customise

Further information

These are just a few of the settings and controls that parents can change via the console or on a Windows 10 PC. For a full list, visit the official Microsoft website.